A World With No Money?

November 25 2008 / by StuartDobson
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 2 Hot

Crossposted from Super Concepts

In the past, the mere mention of an idea system or establishment in this blog has lead to a barrage of complaints and corrections from advocates and opposition alike. So, it is with much apprehension that I attempt to discuss technocracy.

A technocratic society has the goal of: Producing optimum quality goods and services at the lowest possible energy cost, and distributing the maximum amount of goods and services to everyone.

Our broken economy has so far prevented this from being possible. The constant need for money has forced producers to continually produce poor quality goods, essentially, in order to keep the consumer buying. If you have to keep buying, you have to keep working. In today’s developed world, we have far more than our parents did, yet we still continue to slave away, even massively increasing our debts to own more and more.


Essentially, all we really need is:

- Clean Water
- Food
- Shelter
- Basic Clothing

Secondary needs are:

- Consumables
- Electricity
- Comm infrastructure
- Transportation

Tertiary needs are:

- Luxuries
- Science
- Art
- Entertainment

The technocracy attempts to solve these needs from the bottom up, to rethink production and distribution without the need for money. While I don’t agree with all the ideas of technocracy, 3 specific points cannot be ignored.

1.  Too many people go without the essential needs.

2.  Providing the essential needs, even the secondary needs, for everyone on the planet, is really not as hard as we've made it out to be. It can be done by technology, namely automation.

3.  Once everyone has been provided with the essential and secondary needs, the need to work will be eradicated, changing the fundamental shape of society.

Whatever we all think about the political economic systems of the world is soon to become irrelevant. The days of the dollar are numbered, the fuse connected to the entire system of money has been lit. Shortly, the systems of capitalism and socialism will barely matter.

Lets focus on how to achieve step 2. We need to harness all the energy we need from renewable sources, storing and distributing it automatically. The sun, sea, wind and geothermals can provide more energy than we’ll ever need, and it’s all environmentally friendly. Maintaining these energy harnesses, as well as creating clothing and consumables, will eventually be taken care of by automation. However, these tasks will be minimal, due to the increase in build quality. Genetic engineering, nanotechnology and other new technologies are set to solve current issues of food and water shortage. Eventually, extraction of raw materials, creating consumables, and maintenance of machinery, will all depend on one thing – the one thing we have in abundance – energy.

Scarcity, which has so far fuelled our doomed financial system of debt and greed, will be replaced by abundance. Automation will be helped by exponentially increasing scientific and technological breakthroughs. Regardless of whether artificial intelligence becomes reality or not, we are already well on the way to destroying the current economic system. This is thanks to the increasing awareness of the potential for abundance.

Fulfilling the essential and secondary needs of the planet will then free us up to focus intensively on the tertiary needs of society. We’ll work because we’ll want to. Human beings will learn to reconnect with their creative sides, providing value for society with creations and discoveries.

Once this situation comes to pass, technocracy will have made socialism obsolete, as the previous generations will have paid for the essential needs of all future generations. Whether or not capitalism is also likely to be dissolved, is up for debate. There’ll be no need to sell anything as you’ll have all your essential needs, and many people will probably share their creations just “for the love of it”, but perhaps competition in the creative industries could help continue to drive innovation and art. If a money system did still exist, it would only be applicable to the tertiary needs, and in this case, it would be beneficial to society.

What can I do?

Once built, the infrastructure for the technocracy will obsolete the money system, and this is what those in power are afraid of. This is why you won’t see your politicians putting too much effort into fully renewable energy sources. There always needs to be a cost involved, some kind of maintenance. However, what’s becoming apparent is that the ability to build this infrastructure is being taken out of the hands of politicians, and being put into the hands of individuals. This power needs to be realised.

As individuals, we can help this situation by creating technology that will bring abundance. Basically anything that is highly efficient, and preferably automated, falls into this category. We need to show the world how easy it really is to provide the essential needs to everybody. And we need to show them how technology will create abundance, obsoleting the money system in favour of harnessing the immense quantity of free energy available to us.

Is a technocracy (the replacement of money by energy) possible?

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Comment Thread (8 Responses)

  1. If I’m reading your post correctly Stuart, you seem to be using the word technocracy as a substitute for the phrase technological singularity. If that be the case, then I agree that technological advancements are and will likely continue to disrupt the present market exchange mechanisms. And, I concur with your prescription for overcoming resistence to that technology being created and adopted.

    That said, I’m afraid your idea falls down because you don’t seem to have completely considered what money actually consists of.

    Money isn’t currency or some variously refined mineral (although it has taken both those forms and others at various times in human history), it’s an intellectual construct whereby people determine the relative value of everything and account for all of it in a recordable and transmittable fashion.

    Money is the earliest developed distributed network known to history and may well be the pre-cursor to written speech.

    Economic theory postulates a shortage of supply not because there isn’t enough of something available at all (although that is also a possibility), but because there isn’t the optimum ammount available where desired at precisely the time desired. Hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the known universe – you still can’t go out and grab some whenever you want, thus there is a local shortage of hydrogen at the present time on planet Earth. No technology you can describe will change the physical nature of hydrogen, so there will always be a local “shortage” of the element to some extent. An effectively infinite supply still doesn’t provide a mechanism for obtaining access to the supply or a means to utilise it. Money is the mechanism we use to account and communicate to each other what is available where.

    In your essay you stipulate that solar, wind and geothermal energy is “free”. Without debating that contention, you still fail to take into account the necessity of distributing said energy from its point of generation to the ultimate user, who is presumably located elsewhere. Without money (or some indistinguishable equivilent) there will be no way to ensure that the energy gets to where it needs to be when it is needed and that the infrastructure created to distribute it does so efficiently and reliably.

    Whether or not the energy produced has a cost, there is a finite limit to how much of it can be transported to any given locale at any given time. Money is how we tabulate individual usage and determine how much energy is needed where and when. Any other assertion falls into the Clarke-ian realm, unless you want to change the terms of your scenario and postulate post-singularity conditions – something your essay as posted doesn’t address.

    Drawing from the example you provide, the “tertiary needs” all basicly consist of some manifestation of an individual’s time. Here again, without money there can be no mechanism for determining the relative value of your time to me as a potential consumer of whatever it is you have for offer. There must be some established and agreed upon mechanism to determine and communicate the relative value of some concept between individuals in order for there to be trade between them. Barter and swap can only occur once agreement is reached between the disperate parties regarding the relative value of whatever is being offered for exchange. Money, a purely hypothetical instrument measurable to some understood and arbitrary standard, is the word humans use to describe this utterly essential valuation mechanism. It isn’t important that this be the element gold or a national (and more-then-a-little notional) GDP; I’ve long thought the erg would make an excellent economic standard of valuation. What cannot be done without, I’m afraid, is the mechanism for making valuations. Whatever our technology, money will be a part of it.

    Oh, and the economy isn’t in a mess because it uses a stipulated value measure (in this instance the US$), its a mess because too many have manipulated the proceedure whereby that valuation is determined and accounted. Don’t shoot the patient, treat for the parasites making her sick.

    Posted by: Will   November 26, 2008
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  2. It will happen but in a different way. There will be always be some method of “exchange” of goods, with some kind of monetary format. All basics will have to be met but if you are more creative and put more effort into something you will have more than someone who does not.

    It is the same today. More effort and time equates to more income or more “stuff.”

    Posted by: Covus   December 02, 2008
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  3. Hi, I think you might like to check out The Venus Project(http://www.thevenusproject.com/) and derivative initiaves like the New ZLand project (http://www.thevenusproject.com/), The resource based economy foundation (http://www.rbefoundation.com/) and the Atlas city project (http://www.atlasinitiativegroup.org/acp.html).

    I also think that it is inevitable that the monerary system will disappear, however it will be a very gradual change. I believe the key to achieving that goal is education, the more educated people is, the less they tolerate bad design, and the way the moneraty system has come to exist has several built-in flaws. So I think the more aware people is of the flaws and get fed up, they will start to look in other directions.

    Today there’s a lot of people who is already doing that, technocracy, resource-based economies and some others. At the moment there’s no way of telling which of the alternativas will end up being implemented but we can be sure that until people is well educated they we will keep failing at reaching a more fair and sustainable society.

    To better illustrate the importance of the education in achieving that kind of society, we can see what happens when you give uneducated people a new technology which could be used to build something better than what we have and is instead used to perpetuate what we already know: Virtual worlds.

    These places like SecondLife, if used properly could serve as a virtual lab to test alternative social designs. Instead they serve as a kind of Sodome and Gomorrah for people who wants to do there what they can’t do in real life, mostly run scams, build everything around money again. Why not try to liberate us from the burden of money? That would be cool, but that’s is unlikely to happen since the vast majority of people using these services are uneducated, and undeducated tend to repeat and cling to what they already know instead of trying to constantly improve it.

    Of course that’s not to say that there’s no educated people who wants other people to cling to what they know so they can take advantage of that, but it is harder to scam an educated mind, so education would also be the solution to abuse.

    Posted by: tyomero   March 19, 2010
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  4. I have a similer vision of the future.

    I don’t neccesarily see that we need automotons to acheive this end though, I see that most of the useful work in our society is done by a few people. If we eradicated all the jobs purely asscoiated with money, transfering money and purely making money we would have a lot of very intelligent and hard working people available to fill any gaps and we would find that we only have to work half as much as there is enough people.

    Also we would find that we are only doing things that are constructive and useful to society, making it much more rewarding.

    As people focus less on money and more on efficiency and the the other solutions in your blog then things will become more autonomous, people will stop trying to invent a better mousetrap to earn more money and worry about creating useful things that will truly make a difference.

    The independent competition will be removed from these “invention” enterprises, if you will, and these intelligent creaters will be able to work more closely together, making better and more efficient things.

    It can and will happen, how and when it comes about is a different matter.

    The powers that be will not let go of money that easy because it is such an easy way to oppress and control the masses to maintain power and to do so covertly, whilst appearing benelovent and honest.

    And the end of the day no one can say what the future will bring, but I believe money will destroy us, as it is already corroding our souls.

    Posted by: gingerspam   February 25, 2011
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  5. I know it’s very late and the horse has rather left the stadium but I would like to pose a hypothetical question to the original commentor Will. Is fiscal value the only value you apply to evry object and service? Do you not have anything that have sentimental or emotional value? Alot of people do the work they do because they love it. I’m sure there are Police out there who do the work for the money, but how do it because they feel they want to make a better society? How many doctors do it just for the money or do the majority do it because they want to help, heal and make society better? I think also that the point that Staurt makes regarding art is that people do it becuae they love it and you needn’t need to sell it as you already have everything you need so you give to someone or display it purely for yours and others pleasure. I also assume that there would be some form of trade in this future, but it would be more along the lines of swapping something that you have made and I like for something I have made that you like. Value is subjective and relative. There woul be no need of a formal “price” as I see it.

    It’s a difficult concept to get accross, I feel inadequate to the task of explaining it coherently without vast rhetoric and pointless excursions off the topic. What Will is saying isn’t neccessarily wrong, I just don’t think that it has to works that way.

    Posted by: gingerspam   February 25, 2011
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  6. You guys are all great. Visionaries!!! Ideologist. If the idea of a world without money is an Idea then a world with money is an idea. Any idea is a plan with working parts. What happens if you try to actually plan out a society without money? If we do create a trade system based on something that everyone shares evenly then we could still have a functioning society with a means of trade. Think about it in a sense that only the government benefits from the theory of money and not man. If we can come up with an actually operating plan that has nothing to do with money, a “government”. Create all of the basic needs for everyone. Heathcare. Food. Shelter Etc Etc as listed above then I believe we can convince the world we don’t need money. I believe there are only two great values that all of man kind have they can share with the world and have genuine value. Time… which no one can create more of. And Ideas… which is the only way we can create a better life for man. If this idea is plausable how would it be mapped out? How would the government run? There would be no need for war or military because we would all be even with fuel, food and supplies. So how would basic societies thrive? If we create energy walking we could harness that energy to distribute to the masses. There are a million ideas that would help man kind out but would never come to life because they are not cost effective. How would life actually be managed? What would the working parts be? If you want to speak about this idea anymore don’t mention objections without solutions though. Every objection has a solution. Its whether or not you can come up with it. I have ideas and I really want to map this society out and try to sell it to the bottom 99% of the world that is being controlled by the top 1%. Its not impossible its very possible. This idea needs to be created and planned out and sold to the whole world all at once. Not one nation not one city but everyone could stop but continue to do their jobs. Just stop using money and believe that the world could be this way. Go to a grocery store and still get milk. Go to the mall and still get clothes. These operations need to continue to maintain normality but all of the workers who delivery, register, build, and grow need to keep doing their jobs too. Nothing needs to stop but everything needs to change. People need to keep busy and will always want their stuff. Without money though the illusion that some of those things are actually worth something is just that an illusion. I went to college to study Marketing. Its a means of creating a thought that something you want is something you need. Not cool. 60% of all cost comes from Marketing. That in its self should say something about how bad the world is getting. More then half of your money is going to creating that illusion of a want being a need. You are buying into the illusion. Lets map it out. I’ve already started the process. :)

    Posted by: Andre Yeampierre   June 27, 2011
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